Kemble at Home have been out and about with the aim to discover the meaning of love and the recipe for a long lasting marriage. We thought the best people to ask would be our clients, who kindly shared their experiences with us. The stories made us laugh as well as brought tears to our eyes, so we hope you enjoy them as much as we did. We wish you a very happy Valentine's Day.
Melva and Malcolm
“I’ve always loved to dance,” says Malcolm when I ask him about his younger days. “I would go dancing seven days a week, always somewhere different, and I had a different girl for each dance.” He goes on to tell me his whole family used to dance so it was normal for him to love dancing.
“It was 1952 when I finished school. We finished on a Friday and started work on a Monday. That’s how it was in those days, there was no waiting around,” he tells me. He worked in a shopping arcade, and Melva, his now wife, was one of the cashiers. “She was a year older than me so she had been working there for a year already. But she did not like to dance so we would never meet outside of work. She would always go home. That was, until one day Mel’s friends set us up. I did not want to go out with her, at the end of the day, she did not like to dance, and that was important to me.”
I wonder what happened that changed his mind, as this couple has now been married for 60 years. He explains that after intensive persuasion of Melva’s friends, they went out together. They went to the cinema and he walked her home afterwards. They started courting and when he introduced her to his mother, she said: “You are going to be my daughter in law, I know it.” And she was right, in 1955 the couple got engaged. Soon after, Malcolm got called up for military service during which he claims Melva persistently chased him to get married.
In 1957, he finally got permission for marriage from the military, and the big day came. “Unfortunately, Mel lost her tooth on the wedding day,” says Malcolm with a little grin on his face. The photographers caught the missing tooth on all the wedding photos as by tradition Malcolm had to stand on the right side of the bride, and the missing tooth was on Melva’s left side. “That was the only day we danced. And we danced a lot. We moved all the furniture out of the house to allow plenty of space for everyone to join in.”
As I continue to look through the lovely wedding photos I ask Malcolm what love means for him. He says:
“Love is communication between two people. It is being persistent and not giving up. It is about having faith in your relationship and in each other. And most importantly, it is about her always being right.”
Mabel & Victor
I walk past the window where Mabel and Victor usually sit, to wave before going in, but they are not there. I ring the bell and Victor opens the door after a little bit. He was just helping Mabel find her nighty to get it ready for the evening. I offer to help so we walk upstairs and meet Mabel with a smile on her face. She likes visitors.
We soon find her nighty and head back downstairs. Mabel walks with difficulty but relies on Victor for assistance and reassurance. He guides her with words, advising her where and how to move her feet and they seem to do it flawlessly, as if they have been guiding each other for years.
We sit down after Victor helps Mabel to her chair and they immediately hold hands. Their wedding rings glitter in the sun that is shining through the window, illuminating the connection that this couple seems to have. Victor used to be in the Air Force which is where he learned to dance. He says: “You are given a uniform when you join the army and then you learn how to dance if you want to meet girls.” He admits he was always popular with the ladies because of his dancing. Mabel says he was always the better dancer, but they enjoyed dancing together best.
They got married in their early 20’s, with next year being their 70th wedding anniversary. They say the wedding day in the Forest of Dean was short, as soon after the reception they had to catch the train down to Weymouth where they had their honeymoon. They complain about the priest who married them as he turned up, as Victor describes him, looking like a tramp. He had walked for half an hour to the church and they had to wait for him. That, however, did not ruin the day, or the marriage afterwards.
They now talk about what a big family they have with a lot of photos of their two daughters, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren on the walls. They are very proud of their big family and feel very lucky to have them around to help. They help each other finish thoughts and remember the important moments in their lives. Recently becoming a wife myself, I ask them if they have any secrets to a successful marriage. They say that they always stood by each other and never quarreled. “An awful lot of people give up too quickly these days. We never gave up on each other.”
It fills me with hope that love can exist for many years. As I say goodbye to them they ask me whether I need anything else for my story, and I simply ask for a photo – a photo that speaks a thousand words: